Home > Features >

Malcolm Speed’s stance can play a crucial role in the current crisis

Malcolm Speed © Getty Images
Malcolm Speed is ideally positioned to understand the financial motivation behind the proposal and will be the right person to find loopholes in the process and procedure followed so far © Getty Images

Former ICC CEO Malcolm Speed’s stand against the controversial Big Three proposal may turn out to be crucial, says Arunabha Sengupta.

As the quake threatens to create a huge chasm in the cricket world, the tremors have reached far and wide – even back across time. Several former administrators of the International Cricket Council (ICC) have come out lodging emphatic protests against the finance and governance draft proposal submitted by the cricket boards of India, England and Australia.

Former ICC President Ehsan Mani has recently out with a 13-page statement claiming that the paper raised “serious governance issues including lack of transparency and conflict of interest”. And in the aftermath of this statement, he has gone forward to compose a letter to ICC and the member nations requesting that the now almost infamous proposal be withdrawn immediately.

The letter has been signed by a host of names who had held powerful portfolios in the not-too-distant past – including former West Indian captain Clive Lloyd, former Pakistan Cricket Board presidents Shahrayar Khan and Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia and the former Bangladesh Cricket Board president Saber Hossain Chowdhury.

What is most significant, however, is that this letter also carries the signatures of two erstwhile members of the Australian Board – former ICC President Malcolm Gray and the former ICC Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Speed. Their willingness to oppose the actions indulged in by their former organisation makes compelling argument for the seriousness of the issue.

It is Speed whose presence in the opposition camp to the Big Three that seems most relevant.

As a former Melbourne barrister and businessman, Speed is ideally positioned to understand the financial motivation behind the proposal and will be the right person to find loopholes in the process and procedure followed so far. He had been the CEO of the Australian Cricket Board from 1997 to 2001, and is well aware of the workings of the body even after it was renamed as Cricket Australia (CA). In fact Speed still has a working relationship with the current CA CEO James Sutherland as part of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports. He had played a role in the Argus report as well.

Besides, he is no stranger either to the dynamics in ICC having been the CEO of the organisation from 2001 to 2008. And perhaps most importantly, his showdowns with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are legendary.

During his days as the CEO of ICC, Speed had plenty of wrangles with the Indian Board.When,in 2011,he published the memoirs of his ICC days – a thoroughly interesting volume titled Sticky Wicket – a Decade of Change in World Cricket– it included an entire chapter dedicated to the showdown with the then BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya. Named A 15-rounder With Dalmiya, it thoroughly details the relationships he had enjoyed and suffered with the Indian Board over the Mike Dennessaffair of 2001 – the first major crisis with BCCI in the power centre.

In his book, Speed describes Dalmiya as someone who had a “manic determination to make India a world cricket power”. It is pretty obvious he never warmed to the power politics of BCCI, and took the burning of effigies and the public protests a bit too seriously. He was also not quite amused at being branded a ‘platinum blonde lawyer’ by the Times of India. However, he also demonstrated a balanced view when he wrote“Dalmiya, of whom I have been critical in these pages… taught the ICC how to capitalise on its new revenue stream.”

N Srinivasan may be an entirely different kettle of fish, but it is clear that Speed has had plenty of experience of standing up against the bullying tactics of BCCI. Additionally he also has a pragmatic take on the way the Indian Board has flourished and raked money into the game.

After the 2001 crisis, Speed continued to work as a tough administrator alongside four ICC Presidents – Gray, Mani, Percy Sonn and Ray Mali. Although popular among his colleagues, his image to the world remained that of a tough stickler for rules. At the end of his book, he mentions: “I was never going to be warm, soft and friendly, and I was not in cricket to win any popularity contest.”

In view of his experiences with the Indian Board, his ability to take tough stand and the influence he still carries within CA, Speed’s opposition of the proposal and the public airing of his views may be crucial in the way matters transpire following the current impasse.

Speed has opposed the proposal, but has gone on to say that he has complete faith in Wally Edwards. The communication channels have thus remained open. But will this convince Edwards to withdraw support for the proposition? That still remains to be seen.

Catch all the stories on ICC’s Big Three proposal and other key events here

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Live Cricket Score Duleep Trophy Central Zone vs South Zone, final at Delhi Day 4:

Live Cricket Score: Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 3 at Abu Dhabi

Don Bradman dismissed twice on the same day

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

Live Streaming: Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 3 at Abu Dhabi

Live Scorecard: Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test Day 3 at Abu Dhabi

Pakistan vs Australia Live Cricket Score, 2nd Test at Abu Dhabi Day 3

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Brad Haddin feels he will be able to bat despite injury

India vs Sri Lanka 1st ODI at Cuttack, Preview: Teams aim for winning start

Don Bradman dismissed twice on the same day

Virat Kohli’s captaincy opportunities important in context of India’s succession plans

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

Bigg Boss 8 Day 40 highlights: Upen Patel faces captaincy woes; Gautam Gulati punished again!

Ayurvedic treatment: 7 types of Ayurvedic massages you should know about

Petrol rate cut by Rs 2.41 per litre, diesel to cost Rs 2.25 per litre less

Birthday Special: 9 popular dance songs of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan!

Man promised iPhone 6, iPhone 5S, iPad 4 and Macbook Pro for Rs 51,000, gets a ‘heavy brick’ instead

James Franklin, Colin de Grandhomme relay catch at the boundary to dismiss Nathan McCullum

Beauty Tip #43 — Get fuller-looking lips with home-made sugar scrub

NGOs pursue education for all

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Bigg Boss 8 Day 40 recap: Gautam Gulati calls Arya Babbar a dog and Praneet Bhatt a double dholki

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here